Dance studio owner fed up with blighted property next door

Jereka Vinning (Source: WAFB)
Jereka Vinning (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge dance teacher wants answers for the city after she said an abandoned property next door to her studio has caused major headaches for the business and her students.

Jereka Vinning spends almost every night of the week trying to teach her girls the fundamentals of dance. From kicks to the latest moves, her students do it all. But lately, there is something out of step outside the Young Ladies of Class dance studio on Winbourne Avenue. The teacher said an abandoned fire station next door to the place has been driving away her students.

"It's caused us to lose several girls, as far as dance," Vinning said.

Just a quick walk outside her building and it is easy to see the nightmare next door. From graffiti to old clothes and even worn-out couches, Vinning said that is just the beginning of the problems with the old fire station.

"People just hanging out. The windows are now bust and people are sleeping in it and it's been over three years," she added.

It is something that has also caught the attention of parents like Carenda Thompson, who said she almost yanked her daughter out of dance after a stranger approached her late one night asking for money.

"I mean, it's dangerous, you know," Thompson said. "It's already not the best area anyway and this is just adding to it."

From spare tires to mounds of trash over in a corner or even to an abandoned car that no longer has a door, Vinning said there are a lot of things outside the fire station that do not belong near a dance studio. It is why Vinning has been trying desperately to get the city to do something about it.

"We've actually tried to get help with this building several times and no one has contacted us and no one has come to clean it up, so yes, it is hard," Vinning explained.

9News reached out to the Baton Rouge Assessor's Office and was told the property no longer belongs to the city but to two residents. After being referred to Neighborhood Improvement, representatives said they have not received any complaints about the space and encourage the dance teacher to make a complaint using the city's 311 system.

Vinning hopes more pressure and reaching out to the mayor will get the ball rolling to get something done.

"I want it torn down. I really do," Vinning stated.

Until then, though, she said her girls will just have to keep focusing on their steps and praying the problem will get better.

Anyone in Baton Rouge who has a problem with a blighted property can file a formal complaint with the city by using the 311 service.

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